Chancellor visits Georgia College
Chancellor Hank Huckaby, the new leader of the University System of Georgia, visited Georgia College on Thursday as part of his tour of the state’s 35 public universities and colleges.
“I came to Georgia College fully aware of its excellent reputation, and I leave even more convinced of it,” said Huckaby whose appointment began in July. “I met with some very dedicated faculty and students, who brought up some issues but who clearly appreciate the Georgia College experience and said the kinds of positive things that any chancellor would like to hear.”
Georgia College is among the last of the state universities on Huckaby’s tour, which he expects to conclude within the next week.
“We were very honored to host the chancellor’s visit, to show him parts of the campus and to allow him to meet with faculty, staff and student representatives,” said Georgia College Interim President Stas Preczewski.
Huckaby spent the afternoon touring the campus, including historic buildings in need of renovation. The university seeks $10.6 million in state bonds to renovate Ennis Hall for instructional use, and also hopes to renovate the Old Courthouse, Terrell Hall, Mayfair Hall and Beeson Hall in the near future. Huckaby embraced the idea.
“We have been encouraged by the governor’s receptivity to renovating Ennis Hall, and the proposal to renovate other historic structures is in line with our overall plans,” Huckaby said. “We may be able to help Georgia College more quickly than expected with funding these renovation plans, since they are less costly than building new buildings.”
The tour concluded with a visit to the Health Sciences building, which underwent a successful renovation and reopened in fall 2009.
“Health Sciences is a showcase building that is appropriate for our highly ranked nursing program,” Preczewski noted. “When you look at that facility, you realize what renovation could mean to all these buildings and to the university’s academic programs.”
The four buildings are structurally sound and renovation would add significant space to the academic core of the campus.
“Renovation would result in a very modest investment by the state at a cost far less than new construction,” Preczewski said, “but it would increase our yield in admissions and foster higher student retention.”
During the afternoon the chancellor met with the president’s executive cabinet, faculty leaders and student leaders, representing the Student Government Association, Student Ambassadors, the GIVE Center and other student organizations.
“It’s wonderful to have the chancellor visit the campus and hear student concerns as well as the things that we are proud of about Georgia College,” said SGA President Evan Karanovich.
Dr. Ken McGill said the faculty meeting was most informative and that he appreciated the opportunity for faculty from a wide range of departments to explore topics with the chancellor.
Huckaby also met with two staff members who discussed wages at Georgia College and the difficulties that low-wage earners face after years of no raises in the face of rising health care and other costs. Huckaby was sympathetic to their concerns.
Huckaby also toured the Central State Hospital campus located three miles south of the university’s main campus. Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley, City Planner Mike Couch, Preczewski, Provost Sandra Jordan and Vice President Amy Amason, showed the chancellor the potential use of the 160-acre, 169-year-old that campus.
Georgia College and the City of Milledgeville have submitted a proposal to state officials to transform the hospital campus into a health sciences educational center.
Huckaby has a long history in public service for the state of Georgia including seven years as senior vice president of finance and administration at the University of Georgia.
Under Gov. Zell Miller’s administration in 1993, the chancellor helped create the HOPE scholarship. During that time he served as director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.